Saturday, March 23, 2013

Building a Storage Shed

....Or rather, paying someone else to build one for me. Professional carpenter I am not.

This project started back before the end of 2012. Jacob and I knew when we bought this house that we wanted to put a storage shed in the backyard so we could convert the garage into a music room for me. Well, it's done, and ain't it purty??

Obviously I still need to paint it, and I'm actually thinking I'll stain it, and just paint the trim, and I need to add shelving and hanging storage inside, but I elected to do those parts myself to save a little bit of money.

But lets get back to the beginning. I tried to do my research on this and in reading up on what makes a good quality shed. I found very quickly that I could get a larger, better quality shed for a much better price if I just had one built rather than buying one from the hardware store.

So I found a contractor that I liked and who gave me a price that I liked (a 10'x12' shed for under $2k) and let him have at it.

I worried that I would need to get a construction permit, but my contractor fortunately knew that Metro Nashville doesn't require a building permit for a shed that can be put on a skid and moved. With that knowledge, he was able to design and build a shed without the added cost of a permit. Gotta love a contractor who's on your side right?

He started with the floor built onto the cinder block foundation.

And then framed out the walls.

Next came the actual walls.

And the roof was framed. You can actually see the metal roofing material off to the side.

Next came the roof, fascia, cutting in the doors and trimming them out.

Then the window for some light (with associated trim)...

And finally the skirting around the bottom accompanied by some serious happy dancing!

Have you ever built, bought or otherwise added a shed to your yard? What was your experience like? Right now, I'm just excited that the garage can be cleared out for some music room making!

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Little Bug Control

Well I've learned something new....and there's a bit of back story here.

We have six giant hackberry trees on our lot, one of which hangs directly over our driveway. We had been told somewhere along the way that hackberries spit sap, which eats at the paint on your car (and we spend last summer with our cars covered in black sticky stuff), so we had thought we were going to need to cut the one by our driveway down. At the same time, we also thought that we were going to have to take two of them in the backyard down as well because they are very close to the house.

Now, I did get a quote to have all three trees removed.....and nearly had heart failure. It was going to cost us $5600(!!!) to get those trees taken down!!

This was the point where I started looking for alternatives, and someone suggested I speak with an arborist to find out whether the trees even needed to come down, or whether they could be trimmed back, and checked for general health. With this idea in my head, I started looking for arborists, and found Quality Tree here in Nashville (I'm not affiliated with fact, they don't even know I'm writing about them!).

The arborist came and checked out the trees (I didn't even have to be there), and called me back with the prognosis: none....that's right, none....of the trees actually needed to come down.

What he did tell me was that all of the hackberries had been topped at some point. I don't fully understand why someone would lop off the top third of a tree, but I do know that it damages the trees. The arborist told me that one of the trees had developed a form of root rot, but that it wasn't nearly advanced enough to worry about removing the tree. He did, however, recommend that both trees up close to the house be trimmed to remove anything hanging over the house, any dead wood, and extra, unnecessary brush. Easy enough, and this process is far less expensive than removing even one tree.

As for what I learned, the tree over the driveway also didn't need to come down. Hackberries are extremely susceptible to aphid infestations. The black sap that was getting all over our cars is actually not sap. It's an aphid secretion called honeydew.

Nothing like having sticky aphid poo all over your car right?

Fortunately, the aphid problem has an easy fix: Merit. The arborist said he could do this for me, but that it would be less expensive for me to do it myself, and that it's a pretty easy process. All I had to do is get this merit stuff, mix it according to the directions, and pour it around the base of the tree. The tree soaks up the insecticide and the aphids die. The only thing I really needed to know is that this has to be done during March, well before the aphids start their summer-long party on my tree.

So off I went looking for this merit stuff. Home Depot didn't have it, but Bates Nursery did! I grabbed a bottle and headed home ready to kill me some aphids.

The directions were a little confusing at first, but I finally figured out that I needed to measure the circumference of my tree (easier said than done since my arms can't reach all the way around the tree!). Then, I needed to mix 1 ounce per inch of circumference with 1 gallon of water. Since My tree is (much) larger than 16 inches in circumference, I needed two gallons of this mixture.

Since my tree is 60 inches in circumference, I quickly realized I was going to need much more than the 32 oz. that I bought, so back to Bates I went for the gallon size. There are other brands, but this is the solution that I purchased:

I got out my 5 gallon bucket and got to mixing. The merit is a milky white substance.....

And it's actually not bucket just had a little leaf debris from my fall cleanup.

I measured out 120 oz, mixed it with 2 gallons of water and poured it around the tree, covering two feed out from the base. Easy as pie. Oh, and this treatment should last a full year!

So has anyone else been killing some aphids? Tree trimming?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Blank Slate

If you were starting with a completely blank slate of a room, what would you do with it?

This is what I am trying to figure out right now. We are in the process of converting our garage to living space and the finished room will be my music room/office. It has to serve as an office space, but also as a teaching space, a rehearsal space, a practice space, a generally creative space, a study space and as a space to house guests when we have more than will fit into our guest room.

Since it is such a large space, I have no doubt that it can serve all these purposes, and from a practical standpoint, I know what needs to go into the room:

  • Desk
  • At least four armless chairs (not slipper chairs....more like dining or side chairs)
  • A sleeper sofa
  • A large bookshelf
  • Some sort of printer stand (this may be the previously mentioned bookshelf)
  • My cello stand, keyboard (hopefully a real piano eventually), and other instruments
However, from a decorating standpoint,  I'm kind of stuck. And I'm not just stuck on curtains or a desk....I don't even know what color I want to paint the walls! or the floor! I've contemplated several colors: mint green, peach, pale pink, white.....I just can't seem to decide....or find the shade that I really want.

Boo hoo....waaaahhh!!!

So who has a favorite paint color?? And, to repeat my earlier question, if you had a blank slate of a room, what would you do with it?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Built-in Bookshelves IKEA Hack

First of all, let me just say this post is extremely belated. This project started in November!! Though sadly, I literally JUST I just a procrastinator? Maybe we can all agree to be kind and just say that I was taking my time so it would be just right....

So I've had this crazy idea to add built-in bookshelves to the living room for a while now, so when my dad came up from SC to visit me a while back, I asked him if he would help me build these shelves. Thank goodness for handy dads!

The bulk of the work took about a day, and it was mostly not difficult. However, what Dad and I didn't finish together was left to me to finish, and even though I've chipped away at it here and there, it's taken me longer than it probably should have to completely finish.

First, I measured the width of the room to be sure how many sets of shelves I would need. The living room is about 11' wide, and four sets of Billy bookshelves left about a foot of extra room. I wasn't really sure how to deal with this, but my dad suggested we make those narrow shelves in the middle to span the distance (he's so smart!).

Since we don't have an IKEA here in Nashville, Dad was nice enough to bring them from Charlotte (my parents live in that area, but on the South Carolina side of the border). We assembled the shelves and clamped two at a time together to be sure everything was flush. Since my house is on the older side, my floors aren't completely flat, so we slid wood shims (those little wood wedges you find at the hardware store for keeping furniture, dishwashers, etc from wobbling) under the fronts to get the shelves flush with the wall, and then bolted them to the wall, making sure to go through a stud. Wouldn't want them tipping over on anyone!

Next, we picked up some 1x2's, 1x4's and some molding at the hardware store to build a face frame for the shelves. This is what actually makes the shelves look built in and not like they came out of a box. The molding at the top went up first, followed by the side pieces and the two middle pieces where the IKEA shelves actually meet (the vertical pieces surrounding the narrow shelves came later).

Oh, and I learned that since my home is old-ish, my walls aren't necessarily square. To circumvent this problem and get those 1x4's flush with the wall, Dad showed me how to scribe. I'm not very good at it (yet), but the basic idea is that you use a compass (like you used in geometry class) to trace the shape of the wall onto your 1x4 and then cut off the excess material so your board will fit to the wall. It was really hard to do, and Dad had to re-do the side I did because I messed up the bottom where it had to fit to the existing molding. Oh, and yes, I did get paint on the existing baseboards, but I am going to paint them soon-ish anyway!

I did the narrow shelves by myself. Those are just pieces of melamine cut to the width of the narrow space and held in place with pieces of 1x2 rails nailed underneath.

Next, I drilled the two wiring holes through the shelves (you can see it peeking out from behind the owl vase) and painted the backs of the shelves. The color is Starless Night by Behr and I love how the super dark navy blue lets the items on the shelves really pop.

Next up was the last two pieces of the face frame, then caulking to fill nail holes and gaps, then painting the frame itself.

Not too shabby eh? Oh, and the whole project was under $300.....real built-ins, while more authentic, would have run me several hundred dollars more....yikes!

Anyone else been doing construction in their living room? Or anywhere else in their house?